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Probate Avoidance

July 29, 2020 General

The term probate avoidance can have different meanings in different scenarios. The most common might be the idea of avoiding the need to open an estate after death. Another meaning would include avoiding the need for probate court involvement during lifetime.

After death, when loved ones are grieving at a most difficult time, it would be comforting to be able to not have to file several documents with the court, including an inventory and accounting, waiting out a period during which creditors can file claims, and instead, having a short, orderly way to distribute assets of the deceased. In this way, if you do some simple estate planning when you are healthy and able, you can create a process that creates less stress, time and cost for your family upon your death. Such planning will also ensure that your estate is distributed in the manner you desire, rather than relying on the laws that spell out how an estate is distributed (especially important in a second marriage, or for a single person, or for partners who are not married). Taking some time to speak with an estate planning attorney will ensure that your expected wishes are met.

Planning during lifetime is very important so that you put a plan in place in the event you become incapacitated. This might include executing documents that name an individual to handle financial transactions in the event you cannot (Power of Attorney), as well as naming someone to make medical decisions when you cannot (Designation of Health Care Representative). A document describing your wishes for advanced directives might include the appointment of such a Health Care Representative, as well as a Living Will (wishes as to life support), designating a conservator if one is ever needed, anatomical donations, burial wishes, HIPAA authorization, and more. A simple trust may also help guide your wishes in a manner that remains private and provides for direction after your death. This might include helping a disabled child, or a child with spending or addiction issues.

A little advanced planning can help avoid costly and involved court interaction, and can ensure that your wishes are met. I would be happy to meet with you and advise you on these issues.